by Anmol AhujaJul 15, 2021
"Interlude is a house designed not as the main act but for the essential little moments in between," shares Bangkok-based firm, Ayutt and Associates design, about their recent residential design project within the Sathon District of Thailand capital. Settled on a site surrounded by serviced apartments and condominiums within a neighbourhood that never seems to sleep, the residence can be approached via a narrow road just over four metres in width. Here, the Interlude House embeds itself into a scene that features sprawling palm trees and gardens, typifying the tropical climate native to the region.
As per the design team, the brief given by the clients - a couple with no children - was for a home that could be lived in practically, and on frequent occasions host parties of up to 30 guests. In response, the design presents an alternative solution to the ordeals of urban living, as a "welcome break away from the ever-busy city of Bangkok". From the main road, the driveway runs up towards a stark black entry portal leading into a garage that reveals itself as a cave-like space, disconnecting visitors from the world outside. Clerestory windows punched into the walls furnish limited views of the foliage beyond.
"The house is nothing short of a set piece designed to entertain, full of smoke and mirrors, choreographed precisely to create a sequence of events," relays Ayutt and Associates design. Just beyond the garage's exit, this statement rings true as an oasis of light and shrubbery bursts forth to greet guests. Once outside, it becomes evident that the residence's spatial layout is organised along three sides of the site, with the pool and adjoining courtyard to the south at its heart. Moreover, the architects took full advantage of a densely landscaped garden running along the edge of the neighbouring plot, using it as a backdrop and visual extension for the greenery. "Good artists borrow, this house outright steals," they remark.
Vertically, the structure's massing segregates into an opaque black box at the bottom, obscuring views from street level and an upper white mass exhibiting hints of translucency. A mirrored aluminium surface with angular protrusions lines the garage's back wall, warping reflections of the pool. Observers will see copies of themselves emerge and disappear on advancing towards it. The white volume of the upper floor above the surface seems to hover in the air in an illusion of weightlessness, while wavy chocolate marble walls on the ground level follow a linear trajectory along the water's edge. To the north, a perforated aluminium wall reflects and multiplies the greenery of another enclosed court centred around a single tree, creating further illusions. After sunset, the architects mention that the home begins to take on a more suave and glamorous persona, with spotlights that add an element of theatricality.
The living room comes into the frame through a double-height glass wall at the opposite end of the courtyard. Inside, the cavernous void of the living area offers a pure visual feast, combining wood and marble finishes with refined furnishings. A grey lounge-style sofa rests beneath a chandelier comprising multitudes of round bulbs within tubular housing. The wall next to it accommodates a large mural featuring abstract geometric motifs that inject colour into the space, with some of its hues echoed in the furniture.
A bespoke dining table made from 200-year-old timber - wire brushed to develop a patina - populates the dining area, which flows into an open kitchen. In the centre of the latter zone is a black and white marble counter with a diamond pattern finish. The same motif extends to the kitchen's back wall, with the two surfaces aligned using minute precision. Perhaps the most jaw-dropping element of the interior design is a floating stone staircase, complete with a frameless glass railing, envisioned as an object to inspire envy among guests. The stairs also double as a natural sundial when bathed in light from a clerestory window above. For this purpose, individual risers were positioned such that the sun's rays filter through them with varying thicknesses to denote the passage of hours and minutes on the curved edge of the handrail that plays the role of a clock face.
Upstairs, the program consists of a dance studio, gym and lounge, along with the master and guest bedrooms. The top floor cantilevers over the pool below, offering shade, while its windows open onto the courtyard. Furthermore, the south-eastern corner of the dance studio at the road-facing end of the house is left open to overlook the vegetation in the neighbour's garden below.
"As the upstairs house the private living quarters, all three sides besieged by the towering blocks nearby must be protected from prying eyes. The fenestrations on the north, east, and west sides are tightly controlled and precisely placed to introduce light into spaces without sacrificing privacy," mention the architects. To this end, a facade shutter system with protruding aluminium fins and eaves conceals the floor's recessed glass walls, forming a double skin arrangement along a continuous balcony. The facade design also regulates heat intake, with each shutter funnelling air through the fins to ventilate indoor spaces.
Within the more secluded spaces of the bedrooms and offices on the lower floor, the decor and showpieces are far more subdued, as light wood finishes and fabrics impart a zen ambience. By contrast, the grandiose air of the lower floor extends into the design of a mirrored closet in the master bedroom, albeit in a more subtle vein. The row of cabinets within the closet parts in the middle to expose the master bathroom, clad in matured green marble. A sculptural bathtub is the centrepiece of this space, overlooking a glass block wall that permits light to flood in from the garden outside. The entire arrangement projects an air of serenity, completed by the patterned wall of the shower area finished in black and white marble.
In a manner, the design succeeds in doing exactly what it set out to do - elevating the client's living experience while creating a spectacle to be put on show. However, this contemporary interpretation of a 'machine for living', realised through meticulously detailed residential architecture, is not purely a vehicle for ostentatious displays. Instead, Interlude House at its core, is a place to call home and a retreat to seek solace within during fleeting moments interspersed between the frenetic action of urban life.
Name: Interlude House
Location: Soi Saphan Khu road, Thungmahamek, Sathon, Bangkok, Thailand
Year of Completion: 2021
Site Area: 800 sq m
Construction Area: 950 sq m
Architect: Ayutt and Associates design (AAd)
Lead Designer: Ayutt Mahasom
Interior Designer: Ayutt and Associates design (AAd)
Landscape Designer: Ayutt and Associates design (AAd)
Lighting Designer: Ayutt and Associates design (AAd)